New tonsillectomy device gives patients quicker recovery time

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by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN GUSKY

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on October 23, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 23 at 10:23 PM

AUSTIN -- One of the most common and yet painful oral surgeries is a tonsillectomy. Now a new device is allowing doctors to greatly minimize the discomfort and the downtime.

Austin resident Evie Ellis had never gotten a tonsillectomy as a child.  Now, 43, and suffering from recurring bouts with strep throat, she and her doctor agreed it was time.

"It just seemed like it was coming back to back," said Ellis. "I was in so much pain during those strep throat times. I just figured if I am going to be out four more weeks, I would rather have four more weeks of pain and be done with it then have another strep throat again."

Ellis read about tonsillectomies online and prepared for the worst.

"Horror stories," she said. "People were saying, 'This is going to be the worst four weeks of your life.'  Immediately I went to the store and bought all these yogurts and puddings. I got myself all ready to be stuck in bed for weeks on end, and it wasn't like that at all."

That's because Ellis' surgeon, Karen Stierman, M.D., used the new, MiFusion ENTceps device. It uses thermal fusion -- sort of fusing of the vessels under heat -- but without electricity.  More traditional devices use electricity to generate heat to the tonsil area.

"But it does it with a lot of scatter effect," said Stierman, an ear, nose and throat surgeon. "The tissue that remains in the patient is heated as well, and it can then translate into inflammation and post-op pain."  

Stierman says with the MiFusion ENTceps device doctors are able to control the heat to a pinpoint area.

"This results in a more precise removal of the tonsil tissue with less damage to the adjacent structures," said Stierman.

Stierman says without electricity-driven heat, there's no charring or scabbing after the tonsils are removed. That means far less blood loss and a much quicker recovery time.

"I definitely think it shaves off at least three to five days of recovery for my patients on a routine basis," said Stierman.

Ellis says she was eating mashed potatoes in two days and back to work in a week.

"There was pain in my throat, and there definitely felt like something had gone on there, but it was nothing like I thought it was going to be like at all," said Stierman. "It was amazing. It really was."

KVUE is told the price of the MiFusion ENTceps device costs doctors slightly more, but the price of the tonsillectomy procedure remains the same for patients.

Click here to visit Dr. Stierman's office website.

Click here for more information on the MiFusion ENTceps device from MicroLine Surgical.

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